SIOUX FALLS — Among the many effects of the current Coronavirus pandemic is the disruption and uncertainty of summer vacation plans. Many have had to cancel trip arrangements. Some may have decided to wait a bit and see how things play out. Others may be considering making new travel plans as states gradually open up again but are wondering what they should and should not do.
Weariness from being homebound for months has led to anticipation of summer travel and a return to something resembling a vacation. Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some suggestions and tips for those wanting to make travel plans or deal with the complications of changing plans already made.
Consider taking some of these steps when rescheduling or canceling those travel plans:
• Make contact, communicate and keep it friendly. Reach out to the companies or agencies you made your arrangements with to check on refund or rescheduling options. Some of these organizations are overwhelmed by similar requests so try to exercise patience and avoid getting overly aggressive. That can just put the other party on the defensive and lead to barriers instead of bridges. Pandemic distress is being felt by everyone, including that employee on the other end of the line.
• Get the details regarding the process and procedures involved in future changes. Expectations of a new wave of the virus have to be considered. Is there flexibility should that time come, and you need to change your plans?
Stay on top of the news if you are planning to go ahead and book travel. You can sign up for text or email updates from most tourism boards, resorts, airlines and other companies with which you make arrangements.
Booked a VRBO already, or expecting to? See their updated policy for the pandemic at help.vrbo.com .
• Give cancellation policies a thorough read, including the fine print. Right now, doing this matters more than ever. Take nothing for granted that isn’t specified in a stated policy.
• Travel insurance may be a good idea, but also may be less helpful than you assume. Policies differ. Most will not cover a cancellation just on the basis of your fear to travel. Read it carefully.
• Travel agents can be helpful in dealing with all the rapid changes taking place.
• Watch out for those travel deals that are popping up everywhere. Uncertainty about the future means sudden changes may be necessary. Be sure the deal you are considering comes with guaranteed ways to make changes. As always, keep in mind that additional fees and charges can eat into any savings you thought the deal would provide.
• Always use BBB.org to check up on a company’s reputation with former customers for reviews and complaints.
• Scams are everywhere. Legitimate appearing ads for travel deals can be completely fake. Websites can look real but be constructed by a scammer to fool you. Never click on links in ads, texts and emails that come to you unsolicited. You could be enabling malware downloads that will steal your privacy and identity.
Don’t let the pent-up desire for a summer getaway blind you to precautions that should always be followed. Your BBB is mindful of the need for marketplace trust during the current crisis. Trust your BBB with your questions by contacting them at 800-649-6814 or visit BBB.org.